Guest Post Series: Five Questions on…Pregnancy (with Emily)
with Emily Feig
Becoming a mom has been the most amazing, wonderful, challenging, painful, and sanctifying process, even more than becoming a wife. My husband is the most amazing man in the world, and the blessing of being married to him is more than I can find words for. I learned so much about God’s love through him and through being married to him. But it didn’t change or affect me the way becoming a mom did. Before we even started trying to conceive, I spent a great deal of time praying about it. I turned my desires over to the Lord and asked Him to make my desires match His. I know for so many people it can be a long and painful path, trying for years with no success, and for others, they are trying not to conceive and find themselves pregnant but not ready. I knew I had to trust God’s timing and asked that He give us a baby at when it was His perfect timing, and to help me be content with His timing. We had been trying for 4 months before we conceived. Interestingly, I had peace the first 3 months before testing and with every negative result, but the early morning hours on the day we found out we were pregnant, I was laying in bed, clinging to the daydream of a baby, knowing that my hopes may soon be dashed, but wanting those last few minutes of enjoying what might be. The test was slow to turn positive. Both my husband and I were pretty sure it was not, and my heart was much more disappointed than usual. We continued getting ready for the day, but right before the 5 minute mark, we looked again and saw the faintest positive. My husband was not convinced and suggested we try again the next morning. But I knew. The whole day my body buzzed with nervous energy, my hands shaking, my emotions pent up with no release. Since we were both at work, we had no time to talk or process it, and my husband still wanted to test again to be sure. After another positive test, we were eager to celebrate, and talk, and plan, and enjoy our baby, treasuring the secret until we were ready to share. Everyone had an opinion about pregnancy to share with me. Some women went on and on about how much they had loved being pregnant, how beautiful they felt, how much they loved and missed feeling the little kicks, and how they enjoyed all the attention that being pregnant had brought them. Others recalled how horrible their pregnancies had been, how much it had distorted their bodies, how ready they were for it to be over. For me, I fell somewhere in the middle. It was an easy pregnancy. I was not sick, I never got heartburn, I stayed healthy, and didn’t have any of the horrible symptoms many women have toward the end. Mostly, I was just extremely tired and had many aches, but we managed the back and hip pain with chiropractic care. I enjoyed all the little kicks, hearing the heartbeat, feeling connected to this tiny baby inside of me that no one else could connect with as I did. The moments that were the greatest joy to me were when my husband could feel the baby move as well, and when we could hear the heartbeat. We didn’t ever have an ultrasound, and we didn’t find our baby’s gender, but I enjoyed the mystery and the waiting. I also enjoy the way my body grew and the shape of the baby bump. I watched the number increase on the scale and was anxious about the weight gain, but I didn’t dwell on it. I was surprised at how much my husband enjoyed my pregnancy as well. Even now he will think back and tell me how much he loved seeing me pregnant, how beautiful he found me. I never came to a point in the pregnancy when I was ready to be done, when I just wanted the baby out. I trusted that God would bring the baby at the right time, and I didn’t want it to be any sooner. Though I had an easy pregnancy and enjoyed it for the most part, I don’t miss being pregnant as many women seem to. My labor and delivery were intense. We decided to go the midwife route and give birth at home. It was incredibly empowering to take that route. The hospital system seems to think of a woman’s body as the enemy, as though it can’t do the job it was designed to do and needs help in any and all ways, and their goal is to rescue the baby from the mom’s body, though whatever means necessary – induction, epidurals, c-sections, forceps, episiotomies, etc. While there certainly are situations where hospitals are necessary and save lives, uncomplicated births are not medical emergencies. God designed the woman’s body to be able to conceive, carry, feed, develop, and deliver a baby with little or no intervention, and I was glad to be cared for by people who believed and encouraged my belief in my body’s God given ability. The night before my actual due date, I noticed some spotting and contacted my midwife. She suggested getting some rest if I could. Contractions woke me around 1:30am and by 2:30am, I woke my husband because the contractions were quite strong. He timed them and called the midwives to let them know our progress. The contractions were intense from the beginning, and the pain was a much different pain than I had expected. I tried all the different pain management techniques and labored in different positions, and my husband encouraged and supported me. By 4am, the midwives arrived. Shortly thereafter, they filled a pool for me to labor in. For the most part, the midwives let me labor with my husband, and only checked the baby’s heart beat every 20-30 minutes to make sure there were no complications developing. The pain was beyond what I can describe. It was so bad that I threw up. At moments, I just wanted to die. I begged God to help me manage the pain. I just kept trying to ride the waves of contractions and focus on one at a time. I knew that if I just kept going, focusing on one at a time and not letting myself get overwhelmed, I would finally get to meet my baby. Finally, I felt the need to use the bathroom, so my husband and the midwives helped me out of the tub and into the bathroom. I labored there for a few minutes and began to feel the need to push. They midwives convinced me it would be better to try pushing on the birthing stool where they could help me more easily when I delivered the baby, so I moved to the birthing stool to push. As each contraction came, they kept telling me I wasn’t pushing hard enough, and the only think that kept me pushing harder and harder was knowing that the harder I pushed, the sooner it would be over. I think I pushed for around 20 minutes, which seemed like an eternity, until finally my sweet baby was born at 7:21am. They wrapped the baby up in towel and put the baby in my arms. All I remember is being so relieved, and realizing that I had done it, and being so happy to hold my baby and hear little baby coos that told me everything was ok. But I wasn’t quite done, I still needed to deliver the placenta and I was bleeding more than I should. They laid me on the floor and proceeded to massage my uterus to make it contract and deliver the placenta. I ended up with several shots of Pitocin and another drug before the bleeding stopped. Only then did we check to see the baby’s gender – our sweet little boy! I never felt worried about our care, I knew I was in great hands with the midwives, but even more so in God’s hands. Even though the cord was wrapped around the baby, there had been no issues, as the midwives had expertly untangled the cord, and they stopped my bleeding quickly. I had a few small tears, but after great deliberation, the midwives agreed that bed rest would heal both my loss of blood and the tears without any sutures. As I look back on my delivery, I am extremely pleased with how it went. Of course, I would have wanted much less pain, but I would have regretted giving birth any other way. My body healed slowly in the following days, and I was blessed to have my parents and my husband’s parents stay with us and help, as I was on bed rest. Nursing went pretty well with only one or two rough days, though we had more problems with nursing several months later. Slowly, we adjusted to being parents. The first 3 months, we were not sure if we would survive since our precious little boy didn’t want to sleep, but now we are thriving. My love for my son grows exponentially every day. My love for him is also changing me. I have already painfully realized that he is not mine, but the Lord’s. Only God can keep him healthy and safe and heal him when he is sick. I am also learning how selfish I really am, and God is painfully and slowly stripping me of that selfishness. I am being sanctified. But even with the pain of dying to myself, my world is bright and beautiful and joyful. My son’s laugh and his discoveries and his smile when he sees me make me happier than I could ever have imagined. I understand God’s desire for our response to Himself so much better. I understand God as a father so much more clearly, just as I discovered Him as a bridegroom so much more after being married. I have to surrender my son to Him and trust Him with the most precious gift He ever gave me. I understand His sacrifice of His son in a much more powerful and emotional way. Interestingly, becoming a mother has made me much more compassionate to other women, and much less judgmental. I was shocked when I talked to another woman whose delivery and birth seemed to have made her more judgmental. While I was happy with our natural homebirth and would choose to do it again if God blesses us with another baby, I don’t think that every woman should have one, though I am happy to talk to anyone who is interested. I believe that God can and does work in any setting. And after the baby is born, a mother has so many decisions to make and there is such a polarity of opinions on those topics: co-sleeping, vaccinations, cry-it-out methods, nursing/formula , working/stay at home, food choices, etc. I feel so much compassion and love for any mom trying to make the best decision for her baby, and even more if she is trying to seek God’s will in her choice. I was just talking to a young woman the other day who has just recently found out she is pregnant. She is so happy, but also has a great deal of anxiety about everything, especially financially and trying to decide if she wants to deliver in the hospital or at home. My advice to her was to educate herself as much as possible and make choices that minimize her anxiety and to seek and trust God’s guidance. His plan for her and her baby may be very different from his plan for me and my son, or it might be much the same, either way, she can trust God. I’m not naïve to think that means that everything will turn out perfectly. We live in a world with fear, pain, and death. But not trusting God won’t change the outcome for the better, only for the worse. We will be filled with fear and anxiety over things that may never come to pass. I’m finding that slowly, as I trust God more, I have less fear. As I think of it now, I also want to tell her to give herself some grace. A lot of grace. As moms we won’t be perfect, but I plan to do my best with God’s help, and when I mess up, I trust God to redeem it and use even my failures for good in my son’s life. My body slowly regained its normal shape as I breastfed. My stretch marks are slowly fading. I’m working on my ab muscles regularly as they’ve been through a lot and need some toning. I’m not totally happy with how my body looks these days, but then, I wasn’t totally happy with my body before I became pregnant or while I was pregnant. My son is worth every change my body has gone through. And I’m taking my own advice and giving myself grace. And even better, my own insecurities are easily dispelled by my husband’s view of my body, which is nothing less than complete adoration. He loves to quote from Proverbs and Song of Solomon, and in the face of such love, I find myself much more comfortable in my own skin.
Emily’s guest post below is a beautifully written narrative incorporating throughout her story the answers to the five questions on pregnancy (find them here). Because it is a little longer, I included an excerpt here with a link to the remaining narrative. You won’t want to miss the end of the story!
What about you?
Have your own answers to these questions? Why not share them? Email your responses and a recent picture to bodytheologyblog at gmail dot com. You can also post anonymously if you wish.
Posted on April 29, 2013, in Body Image, Community, Guest post, Identity, Physicality, Spirituality and tagged Advice, Body image, Childbirth, Family, God, Health, Home, Infant, Lord, Midwifery, Pregnancy. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.